As juicy and succulent as the meat of properly roasted chicken may be, I’m really in it for the bronzed bits of skin curling at the edges of the bird.
Salty, crispy and slicked with schmaltz, chicken skin is at its best when it’s been seasoned with garlic and salt, then left to sit uncovered in the fridge for a few hours before roasting. This gives the skin a chance to absorb all the flavors and to dry out. And the drier the skin when you pop the bird into the oven, the more golden and sizzling it will be when it emerges.
For this recipe, I used bone-in chicken legs, which are slightly easier to maneuver than a whole bird, and cook faster, too. If I’m organized, I can make this on a weeknight, seasoning the chicken about an hour before I want to roast it. But it’s better if I plan early in the morning or even the night before, so the bird can have a good long rest in the fridge, up to 24 hours.
To my usual garlic and salt seasoning mix, for this variation, I added grated fresh ginger for zip and a little toasted sesame oil for depth. Then I served it with a creamy sauce made from peanut butter and sesame oil.
If you have other things to do while the chicken roasts, you can skip the sauce and just serve the bird with some lime wedges on the side for brightness. But if you have a few minutes, the gingery sauce — velvety, piquant and spiked with more ginger and garlic — is worth whisking together.
One thing to note when you season the sauce: It should be sharp and assertive, as tangy as a salad dressing. Its bright pungency is meant to contrast with the brawny dark meat of the chicken and its even richer crunchy skin. Don’t be shy with the vinegar and salt: The bird can take it.
You’ll probably have some sauce left over, and it keeps well for about a week in the fridge. Slather it on roasted potatoes or other vegetables, or thin it out with mayonnaise and add it to any leftover meat to make chicken salad. The sauce is even good as a dip, maybe served with potato chips — which may remind you of the brittle snap of the best chicken skin.